Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

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Beefster
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Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

Post by Beefster » 26 Mar 2018, 07:49

So right now, I'm giving the church its last chance, going through the BoM cover to cover one more time. I started last night. Intro stuff: skeptical. 1 Nephi: elevation. I was really confused. Could that be my witness? I've barely made it through 2 chapters only to feel that all my doubts were stupid. This ticked me off, honestly. I was expecting to have to really work for it after 6 months of living hell obsessing over the church and attending church as an impostor and then God was like "j/k lol heres ur faith back." I realized in that moment that I don't really want my stage 3 faith back. So it led me to some thinking:

Why would God give me a witness for barely doing anything (but apparently doing the right thing), meanwhile people like John Dehlin, Grant Palmer, or Tanner Gilliland (who worked so hard for that witness for several years) get nothing?

I have a few possible explanations:
  1. God plays favorites and doesn't love us all equally. I want nothing to do with this sort of god and will gladly take my place in hell to stand up to it.
  2. They didn't do the right things for the witness. I highly doubt that was the case for any of them. It would also make God a petty god that I want nothing to do with.
  3. The church is not the only true church, but God wants certain people in it and thus gives them a witness so they can be.
  4. The good feelings are from God, but they're not actually saying that the book/church is true.
  5. The good feelings are not actually from God, but our minds/conditioning.
Perhaps I'm moving the goalposts here. I don't know. But I can't just take that as my answer and shut off my brain. I am "awake" now and I refuse to go back to "sleep".
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

Post by DarkJedi » 26 Mar 2018, 08:54

I don't know if there's a true answer to this Beefster. I don't usually use the term TBM, but it does fit here and I know many who would add "God gave a witness but the person didn't recognize it" (believing everyone can get such witnesses, particularly of the BoM).

I'm not sure God gives us witnesses of stuff, especially through emotion or feelings. I do have a strong belief that Jesus is the Savior, yet I also don't see the real need for a Savior (I know, it's complicated and very complex). That strong belief (witness if you will) is not based at all on feelings. I can't say that I have such a strong belief about anything else or that I have ever received a witness of the BoM.

That said, I'd have to go with 4 or 5. Like you, I want nothing to do with the God of 1 or 2.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Roy
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Re: Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

Post by Roy » 26 Mar 2018, 08:56

I believe that the ultimate secret is that you get to decide what those feelings mean.

1) Maybe God works through many churches and allows them to get many things wrong as long as they are moving in the right general direction
2) Maybe the church is right, or good for you in your life. Like a spouse - maybe it's not fate - but that does not mean that you cannot make a lifelong commitment and lead a happy and fulfilling life.
3) Maybe the church is right and good for you at this point in your life but that does not mean that it always has to be. Like a girlfriend, sometimes the "wrong" one is the "right" one to lead you to the "best" one.

There are lots of different possible inferences/extrapolations. You get to write your own story and be the hero in the middle of it. Make it a good one!
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

AmyJ
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Re: Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

Post by AmyJ » 26 Mar 2018, 09:54

What if those feelings are an arrow pointing to something else entirely going on in your life being triggered by the scripture passage - but independent of the church?

In reading the scriptures this time around, I found messages for me about Charity - either God put them there, or my brain/spirit lifted them from the text. I don't know that I needed the scriptures per se to "get the memo" as it were - but those experiences are now a part of my narrative.

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LookingHard
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Re: Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

Post by LookingHard » 26 Mar 2018, 12:02

This is a big part of what pushed me to stop believing. I checked all the boxes, mentally dug into my past to see what I might have done that was keeping me from feeling the spirit. I kept thinking, "why am I the only one not getting a witness like everyone else around me?" I assumed I was the problem. I did this for decades until I was worn out. I took one more sucker punch to emotionally throw me down the rabbit hole. I found out it wasn't me. I don't discount other's experience, but I just can't fathom a God that would withhold answering fervent prayers from one of his creations.

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dande48
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Re: Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

Post by dande48 » 26 Mar 2018, 13:22

Personally, I think people misinterpret feeling the spirit as a "witness" that it is true. It never claimed to be a witness of truth; that's people's interpretation. What it DOES mean, to me at least, is that it is probably "good", or at the least "beautiful".
Lao Tzu wrote:“The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth.”
You can be inspired by a work of fiction. You can feel something is "of God" even when its not. And you can gain profound Spiritual insights for all sorts of sources. The goodness of a message is irrespective of the sources it comes from.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

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nibbler
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Re: Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

Post by nibbler » 07 Apr 2018, 17:35

Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

I think a lot of it relates back to our perception of things and our experiences. Where one person smells a flower and thinks allergies another person may smell the same flower and think of their mother (because the flower was their mother's favorite flower). To be clear, I'm not saying that one person's perceptions are better or worse than any other, just different.

I think it also relates to how much meaning we ascribe to things. Where one person rolls out some animal bones and uses how they land to divine god's will another person may look at the same event and think about stopping at KFC on the way home.

In this case I don't believe it's god playing favorites, it's just that different people connect with the divine in different ways. It gets complicated at church where a one size fits all model is presented but that's the perception. We fall into the trap of creating expectations for others based on our experiences.

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On Own Now
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Re: Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

Post by On Own Now » 08 Apr 2018, 07:27

Beefster,

Couple of thoughts.

First of all, 1 Nephi 1 is one of the most beautiful chapters in all scripture (IMO). Lehi learns of the destruction of Jerusalem but rejoices... In this world filled with evil, he also sees that the Lord will deliver those who are trying to do right. The massive scale of world-driven politics, inequity, poverty, sickness, and even destruction is minuscule compared to what God will do for those who patiently follow Him. And "I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." It is a beautiful introduction to the BofM.

But more importantly, I think when it comes to faith, we can't defer to God as the primary actor. Who cares if other people seem to have more "witness"? That assumes God is reaching down from yonder heavens to make you feel good when you like something and bad when you don't. You eat too much Cake? God makes you feel sick. You go to a great sushi restaurant and you love their dragon roll? Must be God telling you it's good; in fact, God must have led you there and whispered to order that particular item. Is it God telling you to like Dickens and hate Austin?

Consider this parable. A twenty-something man goes to the DMV. He has been told by someone else that there is a Manager at the DMV who watches the floor through closed-circuit TV. If He likes the customer, He'll make sure that that customer has a great experience, otherwise, He'll make the experience miserable. The man takes a number, sits down with his paperwork that he has prepared and starts to wait. Other people get served. Some of them he's sure got there after he did. Why is this taking so long? Some people seem to be having a successful experience. Some leave with a smile as they say 'thank you' to the DMV people. Other people seem very annoyed. How does that guy have a job here when he's so inefficient? A woman sitting nearby sighs heavily with impatience. When the man finally talks to the DMV rep, it turns out he doesn't have all the paperwork in order and must start all over. Instead of thinking this is just part of life and there is nothing for it, he starts to feel anger toward the Manager in the Control Room. Why does the Manager hate me and love others? Yet, if there even is a Manager, it's probably more likely that He's in the back room looking through paint color swatches to see if He can make the room more inviting over all. Maybe He's also looking at some possible artwork and motivational posters to put in the room even though He knows some will enjoy it and some won't even notice. He's looking at a bigger picture and doesn't pay attention to the specific details of the day-to-day operation. Maybe, just maybe, it turns out the DMV is not a conspiracy, but rather a self-serve model; and in a self-serve model, the most important actor is 'self'.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

Roy
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Re: Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

Post by Roy » 08 Apr 2018, 08:42

On Own Now wrote:
08 Apr 2018, 07:27
Couple of thoughts.
God hates cake, Jane Austen, and the DMV. :thumbup:
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Why would God give a "witness" to some people but not others?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 08 Apr 2018, 18:26

Biology, mostly.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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